As the nation prepares for the opening of the National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York City during spring of 2014, it’s important to reflect on the events and honor those who have passed, those who served in recovery efforts, and explore the continuing significance of that day. WFLA lodges continue to honor local heroes each year with 9/11 community service efforts.
According to Serve.gov, September 11 was established as National Community Service and Remembrance Day in 2009 by the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. This Act was to honor the sacrifice of those who were lost and those who united in response to the U.S. tragedy in 2001. The Act also charged the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) with supporting this effort across the country. This was the culmination of efforts that began in 2002 by the families of the victims. They united in service to establish this charitable service day as a way to honor 9/11 victims, survivors, and others who rose up in response to the attacks. These family members and support groups wanted to provide a productive and respectful way to honor the memory of those who were lost, while also rekindling the spirit of unity and compassion that swept our nation after 9/11.
With respect for the tragedy and heroism associated with 9/11, family members of victims believe the best way to mark the anniversary is to remember the innocent lives lost by performing acts of kindness in your community. So it is important to join with others in service efforts that meet local needs and reclaim the spirit of unity that followed 9/11. Engaging in service on and around 9/11 is an appropriate and respectful way to remember the lives of those lost, pay tribute to those who provided service, and honor those who continue to serve our country today.
According to Laddie Zellinger of wfla Lodge No. 236 in Phillips, WI, the lodge has been honoring heroes and reminding people of tragedies during this time of year for several years. Memorial displays entitled LEST WE FORGET and FREEDOM ISN’T FREE. Along with materials of “9/11” and previous events such as World Wars I and II and put on view. Some sections were about the meaning of each fold of the American flag at military funerals; a Czech Republic city with annual ceremonies honoring Americans for liberating them from the Nazis; remembrance of Lidice, Czechoslovakia where the Nazis killed all the men and obliterated the village as revenge; and items about ZCBJ/WFLA.
During the past dozen years, Lodge 236 displays were at several banks/credit unions, five churches, and two schools. Some years the displays were rotated among several sites for two to four week showings from September through December. Last year, the display expanded to three large bulletin boards. The lodge is now having a younger lodge member create a power point presentation with narration for this display to be shown in school and civic auditoriums.
While wfla lodges have chosen who and how they want to honor local heroes, all types of service have been encouraged on National Community Service and Remembrance Day the initiatives that connect participants to ongoing opportunities to serve throughout the year have a lasting impact, or those that build the capacity of organizations to meet community needs. The CNCS especially encourages service projects that support veterans and military families or that tap the skills and leadership abilities of veterans. It also encourages projects that help communities become better prepared for disaster and emergency situations.
Since 2009, nationwide service on 9/11 has met a range of community needs including disaster services, economic opportunity, education, environmental stewardship, and health. Successful projects typically provide participants the opportunity to both serve and reflect on the events of 2001.
This year on 9/11, several wfla lodges in IA, MN, and NE provided cookies and baked goods for local firefighters, police, and sheriff departments who often put themselves in harm’s way for the better of their communities. Lodges have previously provided lunches and awards to first responders, as well as silent candlelight lodge vigils for the victims. We want to say thank you for your bravery, your sacrifice, and your willingness to serve!